As the world’s largest CO2 emitter, China’s ability to decarbonize its energy system strongly affects the prospect of achieving the 1.5 °C limit in global, average surface-temperature rise. Understanding technically feasible, cost-competitive, and grid-compatible solar photovoltaic (PV) power potentials spatiotemporally is critical for China’s future energy pathway. This study develops an integrated model to evaluate the spatiotemporal evolution of the technology-economic-grid PV potentials in China during 2020 to 2060 under the assumption of continued cost degression in line with the trends of the past decade. The model considers the spatialized technical constraints, up-to-date economic parameters, and dynamic hourly interactions with the power grid. In contrast to the PV production of 0.26 PWh in 2020, results suggest that China’s technical potential will increase from 99.2 PWh in 2020 to 146.1 PWh in 2060 along with technical advances, and the national average power price could decrease from 4.9 to 0.4 US cents/kWh during the same period. About 78.6% (79.7 PWh) of China’s technical potential will realize price parity to coal-fired power in 2021, with price parity achieved nationwide by 2023. The cost advantage of solar PV allows for coupling with storage to generate cost-competitive and grid-compatible electricity. The combined systems potentially could supply 7.2 PWh of grid-compatible electricity in 2060 to meet 43.2% of the country’s electricity demand at a price below 2.5 US cents/kWh. The findings highlight a crucial energy transition point, not only for China but for other countries, at which combined solar power and storage systems become a cheaper alternative to coal-fired electricity and a more grid-compatible option.
Human-induced climate change will increase surface temperatures globally over the next several decades. Climate models project that global mean surface temperature could increase by over 2˚C by 2050 relative to the preindustrial period, with even greater changes at the regional level. These temperature changes have clear and pertinent implications for extremes, and consequentially, heat-induced health issues for people living in particularly hot climates. Here, we study future projections in the demand for AC globally in the 2050s associated with extreme heat events. To do this, we employ an ensemble of CMIP6 models under high and low emissions scenarios. We find that the increasing frequency of extreme temperatures will cause a significant portion of the global population to be exposed to conditions that require cooling. This issue will be especially pervasive in poor countries such as India and Indonesia, which at present lack the AC units required to handle rapidly growing populations and increased frequencies of extreme temperatures. The electricity needed for cooling in these countries could reach as high as 75% of the current total annual electricity demand, which could place serious strain on the electricity grid infrastructure during peak cooling hours. We conclude that demand for cooling in the future will pose a significant challenge for poorer countries whose people will require AC units to handle extreme temperatures. In some countries, the grid infrastructure is insufficient at present to meet projected AC demands, and this need must be considered in future power systems planning.